Former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni is reportedly set to return to politics, according to Times of Israel, as she met with newly-elected Labor party leader Amir Peretz in the context of efforts to form a united bloc of so-called “centre-left” parties to contest the September elections.
Peretz’s office released a statement which described the meeting with Livni as “very good”, but did not announce any concrete steps such as a political merger.
Livni led her Hatnua party into the 2015 elections as part of a joint list (Zionist Camp) with Labor. Ahead of the election last April, the then-Labor leader Avi Gabbay publicly spurned Livni and ended the partnership with Hatnua, prompting Livni to step back from politics.
According to Channel 13, “Livni is interested in a political comeback, but has said she will only run in the upcoming elections if Labor and former prime minister Ehud Barak’s new party join forces.” Electoral slates must be finalised by the end of July.
Barak, heading the newly-formed Israel Democratic Party (Yisrael Demokratit), is reportedly seeking to form a joint ticket “with Labor, Meretz and Livni”, and has said “that he would be willing to give up the number one spot if it would oust Netanyahu and his Likud party from the leadership”.
Peretz, likewise, has suggested “he is willing to do whatever it takes to create a large centre-left bloc, including stepping aside to let Barak lead a joint slate of their two parties.” The two met Wednesday in a meeting described by Peretz as “very positive”.
Yesterday, Barak told Army Radio that he was the most popular candidate to lead a hypothetical united list, but claimed he did not care about his place on the list.
“The vast majority want me to lead a joint ticket with the Labor party. I will run until the end, but my spot on the list really doesn’t matter. I’ll be No. 3 to Livni, or No. 17 on a joint list.”
Two senior leaders of the Blue and White party, meanwhile, Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon, have rejected the idea of a merger with Barak’s slate.